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    Exclusive Cover Reveal: Sam! by Dani Gabriel

    Sam! by Dani Gabriel COVER REVEAL!

    In partnership with Penny Candy Books, I am thrilled to be revealing the cover for the forthcoming September 2019 book Sam! by Dani Gabriel.  The cover is illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo.

    • Total Pages: 36 pages
    • Publisher: Penny Candy Books
    • Publication Date: September 10, 2019
    • Recommended Ages: 8-12 and up
    • Pre-Orders: Available for Pre-Order Now!

    Synopsis

    Sam is a nine-year-old boy who loves riding his bike and learning about the American Revolution. There’s just one problem: Sam’s family knows him as a girl named Isabel. Sam feels a sense of relief when he finally confides in his sister Maggie, and then his parents, even though it takes them a while to feel comfortable with it. But with lots of love and support, Sam and his family learn and grow through Sam’s journey to embrace his true self. In the vein of I Am Jazzby Jessica Herthel, Sam! is based on a true story. With a note from the author explaining her family’s experience, Sam! is an important addition to a list of books that help children and adults discuss gender identity.

    Check out Sam! when it publishes in September 2019!

    About the Author
    Dani Gabriel is a poet, writer, activist, and teacher, the author of The Woman You Write Poems About (Civil Defense Press) and coauthor of Molotov Mouths (Manic D Press). She holds a BA from UC Berkeley in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MFA from Mills College in Creative Writing. This is Dani’s debut picture book. She lives in the Bay Area.

    About the Illustrator
    Robert Liu-Trujillo is an author/illustrator and publisher from the Bay Area. He has worked on several picture books including Furqan’s First Flat Top, which he wrote and illustrated, One of a Kind, Like Me by Laurin Mayeno, which he illustrated, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina, for which he contributed an illustration. He is a co-founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective, a contributor to Rad Dad, and the founder of Come Bien Books. He lives in Oakland, CA, with his wife, son, and daughter.

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    adult books, children's books, technology

    Screen-Free Week: Unplug With These Books for Readers of All Ages

    Are you looking for Screen-Free Week book recommendations for readers of all ages?  We’ve got you covered!

    Every year during screen-free week, thousands of people participate and commit to unplug from screen-based entertainment for an entire week.  Are you up for the challenge?  You can visit the screenfree.org website to find out more information, discover local screen-free week events and find great resources to help you.

    What is Screen-Free Week?

    From the Screen-Free website: Screen-Free Week is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.  Each year, thousands of families, schools, and communities around the world will put down their entertainment screens for seven days of fun, connection, and discovery.  Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what you can get! An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes wiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or playing pretend!  You can celebrate Screen-Free Week at home, in your school, in your community, or anywhere – just put down those entertainment screens and do literally anything else! You might be surprised at what you find.

    Below are a few book recommendations for members of your whole family to enjoy during screen-free week.  These books are all related to the themes of living life unplugged or technology.  Happy Reading!

    Kid/Teen Recommendations

    Unplugged by Steve Anthony (Ages 3-5)
    One day, Blip becomes unplugged after a blackout and discovers the outside world beyond screens.  Blip explores the outdoors and also makes new friends.  A fun story with a timely message that shows kids it’s possible to have fun without electronic devices.

    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Dennihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha (Ages 4-8)
    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all. This clever story, complete with a recipe for lemonade, celebrates the pleasures of patience, hard work, nature, community . . . and putting down the electronic devices just for a while.

    Blackout by John Rocco (Ages 4-8)
    This is a wonderful story about how a power outage brings families and neighbors together by turning off all the distractions. I like reading this one with the kids Enjoy in the dark with a flashlight under the covers.

    If You Give a Mouse an iPhone: A Cautionary Tale by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    A funny and lighthearted parody of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  Shows kids the good and bad consequences of too much screen time.

    No More Screen Time by Patti Price (Ages 4-8)
    A cute an informative book about unplugging from devices, playing outside and spending time with family and friends.

    Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (Ages 4-8)
    “In a bright buzzing room, in the glow of the moon-and iPhones and Androids and Blackberries too-it is time to say goodnight…”  A whimsical parody about living a life filled with technology and screens.

    How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk (Ages 4 – 8)
    All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done.

    What Does it Mean to Be Safe? by Rana DiOrio (Ages 4-8)
    What Does It Mean To Be Safe? explores physical, emotional, social, and cyber safety in unthreatening ways that spark meaningful conversations between adults and children.

    Jaden Toussant, The Greatest Episode 1: The Quest for Screen Time by Marti Dumas (Ages 5-7 )
    Jaden Toussaint, 5 year-old scientist and all around cool dude, is on a mission to convince the grown-ups that he needs more SCREEN TIME. His only weapons are science, ninja dancing, and his super-powered brain power. Can Jaden Toussaint get the grown-ups to change their minds?

    But I Read It on the Internet by Toni Buzzeo (Ages 8 – 12)
    Hunter and Carmen disagree whether George Washington really had wooden teeth, and Mrs. Skorupski encourages them to research the story on the internet and use her “Website Evaluation Gizmo” to evaluate websites and come up with the correct answer.

    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media… and Mobile Devices: 21 Tips to Wise Posting in an Insecure World by Jonathan McKee (Ages 12 – 18)
    The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices will help you navigate the digital world with 21 refreshingly honest and humorous tips that will not only inform, but that also just might change the way you think about your social media interaction.

    Adult Recommendations

    Raising Humans in a Digital World by Diana Graber
    This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for—a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
    Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude.

    Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria L. Dunckley, MD
    Follow the steps outlined in this four-week plan to end meltdowns, raise grades and boost social skills.

    The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz
    Finally, an evidence-based, don’t-panic guide to what to do about kids and screens.

    Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner
    Screenwise helps parents recognize that the social wisdom they have gained throughout their lives is a relevant and urgently needed supplement to their kid’s digital savvy. These skills can help set kids up for a lifetime of success in a world fueled by technology.

    The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch
    Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal?

    Screen-Free Fun: 400 Activities for the Whole Family by Shannon Philpott-Sanders
    Screen-Free Fun offers over 400 ideas to disconnect from tech devices and reconnect with our families in a healthier way. You can pick from DIY activities to games to weekend outings. Since many of the activities work well for kids at various ages, your family will be able to grow along with the different projects and make plans for both younger and older siblings alike. You can try indoor projects, outdoor activities, or learn more about your favorite destinations with activities like a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood or an i-spy game at the zoo. There is also space for your family to add your own favorite activities so you never forget a great idea or memory! From summer vacation to holiday breaks and every rainy day in between, with this book you and your family will always have something fun to do together—without ever having to resort to a tablet, phone, or computer.

    Your turn: Are you planning to participate in screen-free week?  What other books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

     

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    adult books, children's books, podcasts

    The Ultimate List of Literary Podcasts for Book Lovers of All Ages

    Are you a book lover looking for a new literary podcast to listen to?

    I love listening to podcasts instead of watching tv or mindlessly surfing social media.  I usually listen to podcasts while folding laundry, commuting or when I’m washing dishes.

    I think podcasts have so much to offer people of all ages.  The ones I like to listen to have exciting stories, interesting facts, and lively sound effects.  That’s basically everything you need for an entertaining listening experience.  The best part?  There are podcasts for every member of your family to enjoy!

    Below I’ve rounded up some of my current favorite literary podcasts for kids, tweens/teens, young adults and adults.  I hope you’ll find at least one podcast that resonates with you or other members of your family.  Happy listening!

    Oh, and just in case you never listened to a podcast and don’t know how to do it, I’ve included some of the most popular options for listening:

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    Kids

    All the Wonders
    Weekly interviews with Authors, Illustrators, Award Winners, Up-And-Comers, and Everyone In Between

    Book Club for Kids
    The place where young readers meet to talk about books. The show includes a celebrity reader and an interview with the author.

    Books Between
    A Podcast to help connect kids between 8-12 to books they’ll love.

    Circle Round

    Circle Round is a storytelling podcast for kids ages 3 to 10.  The show features folktales from around the world with an eye towards inclusivity. Stories are 10 to 20 minute diverse episodes that delve into topics such as kindness, persistence and generosity.

    Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
    Based on the popular book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, the global best-selling book series written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, inspiring millions of girls and women around the world to dream bigger, aim higher and fight harder.

    Little Stories for Tiny People

    A podcast featuring original kids’ stories and poems that will delight the tiny people in your life.

    Lu and Bean Read
    Join Lu, Bean and friends as they hear stories read by children’s picture books authors and interview the authors about their books.  Writer and blogger Tracy Babler and daughters Lu and Bean share their favorite children’s books and stories.

    Picturebooking
    A podcast that showcases the authors and illustrators of some of your favorite children’s books.

    Stories Podcast

    The perfect kids podcast for imaginative families. Whether you’re driving with your children or just want to limit your kids’ screen time, Stories Podcast delivers entertainment that kids and parents alike will love.

    Storynory
    A podcast offering  a mixture of original stories and myths from around the world.

    Story Pirates
    Story Pirates is a group of world-class actors, comedians, improvisers and musicians who adapt stories written by kids into sketch comedy and musical theater.

    Story Time
    Story Time is a free fortnightly audiobook podcast for children ages 2-13.  Each story is usually less than 20 minutes long, just long enough to keep toddlers, preschoolers, and little ones engaged.

    Talking About Books for Kids
    A podcast that explores diverse books for kids and teens through conversations with authors and those that love reading children’s literature.

    The Yarn
    A narrative adventure. The Yarn takes listeners behind the scenes of children’s literature, and lets them look at all the threads that must be weaved together to create a book.

    Adults / Young Adults

    All the Books! Podcast
    A weekly book podcast of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases.

    Am Writing
    In conversations between us and guests like David Sedaris, best-selling romance author Sarina Bowen, Jennifer Weiner, Alan Alda, Anna Quinlan, Cal Newport and many, many more, the podcast gives you all we can about getting started and keeping going in all aspects of the writing business.

    Black Chick Lit
    A podcast that talks books by and about black women.

    Black & Read
    A book club podcast hosted by Terry Brown. Each week Terry and his guest will discuss a piece of literature from the unique perspectives of a person of color.

    Books and Boba
    A book club dedicated to books written by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

    Currently Reading Podcast
    A podcast dedicated to the love of books and reading. Two bookish friends discuss what’s on their nightstands, in their earbuds, and on their Kindles right now, in addition to books they’ve loved forever, and a variety of other readerly topics.

    The Guardian Books Podcast
    A weekly look at the world of books, poetry and great writing presented by  Claire Armitstead,  Richard Lea, & Sian Cain

    Hey YA
    A literary podcast for book lovers who enjoy YA (young adult) books.

    Kidlit Women Podcast
    A podcast of interviews and essays focusing on women’s and gender issues, including non-binary and gender fluidity, in the children’s literature community and all its intersectionality.

    Levar Burton Reads
    In every episode, host LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Roots, Star Trek) invites you to take a break from your daily life, and dive into a great story.

    Lit Up
    A literary podcast that beyond the book and ask the writers and thinkers what they’re reading and what they are thinking, and the truth about who they really are.

    Literary Disco
    A podcast where writers talk about reading.

    Minorities in Publishing

    The brain child of publishing professional Jenn Baker, MiP is a podcastdiscussing diversity (or lack thereof) in the book publishing industry with other professionals working in-house as well as authors and those in the literary scene.

    The Bookstore Podcast
    A podcast for book news, reviews, and discussion hosted by two former booksellers.

    The Stacks
    Host Traci Thomas chats with a wide array of guests from film and television stars to community leaders, publishing professionals, and best-selling authors.

    Read Aloud Revival

    A podcast to equip and inspire adults to make meaningful and lasting connections with children through stories.

    Reading Women Podcast
    A podcast discussing books by or about women.

    What Should I Read Next?
    Hosted by Anne Bogel, of the popular blog Modern Mrs Darcy, this podcast features interviews with readers about the books they love, the books they hate, and the books they’re reading now. Then, Anne she makes recommendations about what to read next.

    Your turn:  What are your favorite literary podcasts to listen to?  Feel free to share in the comments.  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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    South Asian Children’s Books Set in Sri Lanka + Tips for Talking to Children About Tragic Events

    The latest terror attack against Sri Lanka has left me silent and deeply saddened by the heinous act.  The attack came just one month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in New Zealand.  Like many people, I’m left wondering: When will these senseless acts end?  What can we do collectively to find answers to end such violence?  I wish I had the answers, but I don’t.  The sad truth is terrorism remains our number one global enemy.

    Following any tragic event, I like to concentrate on what our family can do now to help those most directly affected and to promote safety, tolerance and acceptance in our community.  Hence, I decided to write this blog post in an effort as a small way to help others.

    Tips for Talking to Children About Tragic Events
    Parents, caregivers, grandparents and educators often want to know how to handle talking to children in relation to tragic events such as shootings and terrorist attacks.  Since my children are still young, I often begin difficult conversations like this by reading books.  These may be books we have on hand in our home library or ones we borrow from our local library.  In addition to reading books, I continue the conversation by following any (or all) of the steps listed below:

    • Ask what they already understand about the event that happened (they may learn about events by hearing adults talk about them, hearing others talk at school, from their friends or hearing about them on the news)
    • Clear up any misunderstandings, scary rumors or worrisome thoughts they may have heard about the event
    • Tell them the truth in simple and direct terms and avoid trying to mislead them – no sugarcoating
    • Reassure their safety at home, school, church/mosque/place of worship and community
    • Ask them if they have any questions and answer them honestly
    • Limit repetitive media coverage about the event (Once we discuss the event, I limit exposure to hearing about it over and over again)

    Children’s Books Set in Sri Lanka

    Below I’ve rounded up a few children’s books set in Sri Lanka.  I hope this list helps children learn more about Sri Lanka, the little island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of India.  Sri Lanka is often called “the teardrop island” for its unique shape and “the spice island” for its delicious flavors.

    Stories for South Asian Supergirls by Raj Kaur Khaira (Ages 5 – 12)

    From the publisher: Through the fascinating stories of 50 women from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, South Asian girls will have a chance to dream about lives for themselves that radically differ from the limited narratives written for them by their culture, wider society and the media. From a prominent suffragette (Sophia Duleep Singh) to the Indian princess who spied for Britain in World War II (Noor Inayat Khan) and a Booker Prize-winning author (Arundhati Roy), Stories for South Asian Supergirls seeks to redress the imbalance for young girls of colour by empowering them to break new ground for themselves and to inspire others in the process. 100% of the author’s share of proceeds from book sales will be donated to charity.

    Ruby Rides An Elephant by Ruby Lovell (Ages 4-8)

    From the publisher: Ruby is on a fantastic holiday with her parents on the tropical island of Sri Lanka. What exciting adventures will her parents take her on? She certainly never expected to go on this ride. NO not in a car, NO not on a bus – but on an Elephant! Through forests, jungles and lakes. Ruby also makes a new best friend in Rani the Elephant.

    When the Rain Comes by Alma Fullerton (Ages 4-8)

    From the publisher:  It is time to plant the rice crop in Malini’s Sri Lankan community, and the little girl is both excited and nervous to help for the first time. What if she does it wrong? Will she be responsible if the crop fails? When the oxcart rumbles in loaded with seedlings, she reluctantly agrees to watch the big, imposing animal while the driver takes a break. Suddenly, the skies go dark with monsoon rain. A flash flood pours down the road, separating Malini from the driver and her family. They are shouting for her to run for higher ground, but what about the rice? Summoning up courage she never dreamed she possessed, Malini resolves to save ox, cart, and seedlings, no matter what it takes.

    Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp (Ages 6 and up)

    From the publisher: Nine-year-old Shanti, who lives in the mountains of Sri Lanka, has her wish come true when her Uncle Nochi takes her to see the Indian Ocean.

    Petscapade: Mystery Book #1 by Nadishka Aloysius (Ages 9 -12)

    From the publisher: Written in homage to the Enid Blyton mystery books, this story is set in Sri Lanka. It is a coming of age tale, and the youngsters learn to travel through an adult world of prejudice and social norms as they attempt to solve the mystery. This will also appeal to lovers of cozy mysteries and herald a new era of amateur sleuths.

    Elly Rose in Sri Lanka by Maggie O’Hara (Ages 5 – 8)

    From the publisher: Elly Rose and her mother fly from Sydney, Australia to Sri Lanka, to attend the famous Esala Perahera festival, and to meet Shalinka and his daughter Aruni. When a baby elephant is lost, Elly Rose knows she must help find its family. It’s a race against time. What will they do when a cheeky monkey steals their map? Will they find the elephants family or will they get caught in the monsoon rains?

    An educational book about culture, friendship and being selfless. This book embraces travel and adventure and explores different cultures and traditions in Sri Lanka. An Australian and a Sri Lankan girl go on an adventure together to find the baby elephants family. Together they learn a little more about each other and their different cultures.

    The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers by Mike Masilamani (Ages 12 and up)

    From the publisher: The Boy Who Speaks in Numbers is a darkly satiric account of childhood in times of war. Set in Sri Lanka, the events it narrates could equally happen elsewhere — in all places where human deaths are reduced to numbers, and where guns do not differentiate between adults and children. Mike Masilamani’s ironic narrative centers around an unnamed boy who is more at home with numbers rather than words. Along with a constantly chattering — and prophetic — cow he bears witness to a bizarre and violent time.

    Do You Really Want to Meet an Elephant? by Cari Meister (Ages 6 – 9)

    From the publisher: A child learns about domesticated elephants and then goes on a trip to Sri Lanka to view Asian elephants in the wild.

    Mariah the Little Wanderer by Tahira Perveen Sheriff (Ages 4 – 8)

    From the publisher: Anyone can be Mariah! Every little girl and little boy can experience the same adventures as Mariah- The Little Wanderer if they put their heart & mind to it. Mariah- The Little Wanderer is centered around the city of Colombo in the Island of Sri Lanka, and it’s portrayed as a whimsical land everyone just dreams of living in. It inspires little children to wonder about the outside world, the beauty in making friends with people from all walks of life, and most of all broadens their minds to the endless beauty of travel and living life to the fullest.

    Sri Lanka: Cultures of the World by Jo-Ann Spilling (Ages 10 – 13)

    Explores the geography, history, government, economy, people, and culture of Sri Lanka.

    Little Sid: The Tiny Prince Who Became Buddha by Ian Lendler

    Note: This book isn’t necessarily set in Sri Lanka, but I included it because a majority of people from Sri Lanka are of the Buddhist faith.

    From the publisher: A spoiled young prince, Siddhartha got everything he ever asked for, until he asked for what couldn’t be given­―happiness.  Join Little Sid as he sets off on a journey of discovery and encounters mysterious wise-folk, terrifying tigers, and one very annoying mouse.

    Your turn: What books would you add to this list?  What tips can you provide to help talk to children about tragic events?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    8 New Books I’m Excited to Read this Spring & Summer

    There are so many fantastic books on my TBR list from last year I still haven’t read yet.  Can anyone else relate?  Nevertheless, in true bookworm fashion I’ve rounded up some new and forthcoming books I’m most looking forward to tackling this spring and summer…because…books!

    If you’re looking for a reason to get back into reading, or if you’re a book lover like me looking for some book recommendations, I hope you’ll enjoy this list.  If you have any book recommendations for me please shout them out in the comments.  Not that I need to add any more books to my TBR list!

    Now, on to the books (in no particular order)!

    1. They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

    This book sounds so intriguing to me…I can’t wait to dive into this thriller!  Bonus points for it being written by a Black woman and being called one of the most anticipated suspense reads of the year.

    From the Publisher:

    It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.

    Delighted by a surprise invitation, Miriam Macy sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico with six other strangers. Surrounded by miles of open water in the gloriously green Sea of Cortez, Miriam is soon shocked to discover that she and the rest of her companions have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses―and all seven strangers harbor a secret.

    Danger lurks in the lush forest and in the halls and bedrooms of the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keeps the group trapped in paradise. And strange accidents stir suspicions, as one by one . . .

    They all fall down

    2. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

    I loved the books The Wedding Date and The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory, so I’m looking forward to reading this one too.  Anyone else?

    From the Publisher:
    Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

    1. Alexa is their best friend
    2. They hate each other

    After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

    But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

    3. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

    I’ve been seeing this one all over Instagram and have heard great things about it.

    From the Publisher:

    The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

    Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

    As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

    4. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

    This book has been getting lots of buzz so far this year.  I just had to add it to my TBR list to see what everyone is talking about.

    From the Publisher:

    Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

    As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

    With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world

    5. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

    From the Publisher:

    One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

    Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

    6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

    I’m almost finished with this book and it definitely lives up to all the hype.  It’s by far THE best book about habits I’ve ever read.  I’m devouring every word of it and applying the tips mentioned.  This is a true GEM – seriously!

    From the Publisher:

    No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

    If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

    Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

    Learn how to:
    *  make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
    *  overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
    *  design your environment to make success easier;
    *  get back on track when you fall off course;
    …and much more.

    Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

    7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

    From the sound of the synopsis, I think I’m going to enjoy this one as much as I did The Hate You Give.

    From the Publisher:

    Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

    But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

    Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

    8. The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need to Know by DeVon Franklin

    I love reading books about men told from the male perspective.  Do you?

    From the Publisher:

    We hear it all the time. Men cheat. Men love power. Men love sex. Men are greedy. Men are dogs. But is this the truth about men?

    In this groundbreaking book, DeVon Franklin dishes the real Truth About Men by making the compelling case that men aren’t dogs but all men share the same struggle. He uses the metaphor of a dog that needs training as a way to explore why behavior persists in men that can lead them to act against their vows, their integrity and even their character.

    DeVon provides the manual for how men can change, both on a personal and a societal level by providing practical solutions for helping men learn how to resist temptation, how to practice self-control and how to love. He argues the same discipline that drives men in their professional lives needs to be applied to their private lives. DeVon is also transparent about the challenges he faces daily as he endeavors to “Master the Dog” within.

    But The Truth About Men isn’t just for men. DeVon tells female readers everything they need to know about men. He offers women a real-time understanding of how men’s struggle affects them, insights that can help them navigate their relationships with men and information on how to heal from the damage that some misbehaving men may have inflicted.

    Your turn: Have you read any of these yet?  What other books should I add to my TBR list?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    children's books, diverse books

    15+ Multicultural Christian Picture Books for Children

    Looking for some fabulous Christian picture books for children ages 4-8? Be sure to check out the picture books on this list!

    Since our family is of the Christian faith, it’s important for me to read high-quality faith-building books with my children.  In the list below, I’ve rounded up some fantastic Christian picture books with excellent illustrations that put God at the focus of the story.   If you’re looking to instill positive faith values in children or just want to read a fantastic Christian-themed picture book about everyday kids being kids, I hope you’ll find something in this list.  Happy Reading!

    The Creation by James Weldon Johnson

    Set in the Deep South, The Creation alternates breathtaking scenes from Genesis with images of a country preacher under a tree retelling the story for children. The exquisite detail of James E. Ransome’s sun-dappled paintings and the sophisticated rhythm of the free verse pay tribute to Black American oral traditions of country sermonizing and storytelling.

    Who Will I Be, Lord? by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

    A young girl thoughtfully considers her family tree and the vibrant ancestors who populate it. As each family member’s story is revealed, her quiet meditation—about what kind of person she’ll be when she grows up—transforms into a testament to the importance of sharing family stories.

    Come Sunday by Nikki Grimes

    Softly, quietly begins the day of the week that, for LaTasha, is always full of glorious sounds: the pipe organ, tambourine, and drum; the footfalls of ushers marching down the aisle of the sanctuary; the sweet harmonies of the choir; and the rich vibrato of the preacher’s voice. LaTasha sings along with the congregation, confident that Heaven hears each joyful note.  A book of beautiful poems related to going to church on Sunday.

    Psalm Twenty-Three by Tim Ladwig

    The text of the familiar psalm comparing God to a loving shepherd accompanies illustrations which shows the world of love and fear faced by an urban African American family.

    He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

    Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and nature.

    The Lord’s Prayer by Tim Ladwig

    A young girl and her father spend a day together helping an elderly neighbor. The love and guidance the child experiences in her relationship with her dad reflect the heart and will of our Heavenly Father in concrete ways children of all ages will understand.

    Early Sunday Morning by Denene Millner

    It’s almost little June’s big day to sing her first solo in the youth church choir and she couldn’t be more excited! But when it’s time to practice at choir rehearsal, June gets a little stage fright. As a result, her voice starts to tremble when she sings.  She overhears her friends making fun of her which hurts her feelings and makes her even more nervous and scared. With the help of her supportive family and community members, June gains back her confidence. But will she be ready to sing her big solo on Sunday morning in front of the whole congregation?

    Sunday is for God by Michael McGowan

    A boy longs to play in the river on this hot summer day, but instead he has to sit quietly in a pew. His collar itches and his tie’s too tight—why does the Lord care whether people get dressed up for church, anyway? But as hymns and prayers fill the room, he begins to appreciate the simple beauty of a day set aside for family and prayer.

    The World is Awake by Linsey Davis

    The World Is Awake, A celebration of everyday blessings, written by Emmy Award winner and ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis with Joseph Bottum, is a lyrical, rhyming story for young children intended to make them feel safe and joyful, cradled in the hands of God.

    When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner

    Told in rhyming and playful text with beautiful illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

    Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer by Tonya Bolden

    A young boy wakes. He has forgotten to say his prayers. Outside his window, a beautiful harvest moon illuminates the city around him and its many inhabitants. As the moon slowly makes its way across the heavens, the boy offers a simple prayer for the homeless, the hungry, and others.

    The Watcher by Nikki Grimes

    Jordan lives in fear of Tanya, the class bully. But Tanya has worries of her own, no matter how much she tries to ignore them. It seems impossible that Jordan and Tanya could be anything other than enemies, but the Lord is watching over them, guiding each of them along a path that might just help them to understand one another.

    Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons

    In 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. It has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

    Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson

    From award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier, a stunning new picture book version of the well-known song that has become known as the African-American National Hymn

    We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands by Rafael Lopez

    Come and read along and sing along as we celebrate the magic of unity. From the rivers to the mountains to the oceans and to the sea — we’ve got the whole world in our hands.

    As an added bonus the sheet music is included in the back of the book for piano, guitar, and recorder for classroom, library, and home sing-alongs.

    I Am: God’s Affirmations for Little Girls by Belinda N. Mays

    This reflection of God’s truth includes memory versus paired with empowering poetry and breath-taking illustrations to help elementary aged girls build the confidence and courage to live by God’s standards.

    God’s Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    It’s a wish that everyone will see they are brothers and sisters, no matter their way of speaking to God, no matter the size of their nose or the shade of their skin. Aided by vibrant artwork evoking such images as a rainbow and a sharing circle, Tutu offers the essence of his ubuntu philosophy, a wisdom so clear and crystalline that even the smallest child can understand.

    When Daddy Prays by Nikki Grimes

    In this collection of new poems by Nikki Grimes, a child learns about prayer from his father, whose prayers carry the family through each day — no matter what the circumstances.

    When I Pray for You by Matthew Paul Turner

    Do you pray over your children and family? If so, this is a definite must add to your collection. It’s SO beautifully written and is the perfect alternative for the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go…for praying families.

    It’s filled with all the hopes and dreams I have for my children as I raise them to be responsible adults.

    Your turn: What books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    family fun

    The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt

    Come one, come all – because the Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is about to begin!

    With Easter around the corner, I created a scavenger hunt and I hope many of you will participate and join in the fun!  The adventure begins on Monday, April 1, 2019 and ends on Monday, April 15th. You’ll have two weeks to try and answer as many of the questions listed below correctly.

    If you start and stick it through, by the end of the hunt – even if you don’t win a prize – you will have gotten to know me, my blog, and my family a little better.  You might even learn some things along the way or find some new book recommendations, which is always a plus!

    Does that sound okay?

    Good, let’s get going!

    What’s at Stake?

    • A $50 Amazon gift card!  This scavenger hunt is open to ANYONE in the world.  The gift card code will be emailed to the winner.

    Talk Rules to Me
    Okay – are you ready for the rules?

    1. The FIRST person to get the HIGHEST number of points by answering the questions correctly will be deemed the winner.  It could be YOU!

    2. You MUST email all of your responses to hereweeread@gmail.com in order to enter.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

    3. Bonus Opportunities.  Yes, there are bonus opportunities too!  For 5 bonus entries: Comment on my last two (2) blog posts OR my last 2 Instagram posts.  For 7 bonus entries: subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

    The Spirit of the Games
    I’d like to remind everyone that Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt is for fun, for learning, and for getting to know me a little better.  If you have any questions about this scavenger hunt – pop them in the comments below the post.

    And without further ado…

    Here you go: The Eggscellent Social Media Scavenger Hunt list of questions.

    On your mark.

    Get set.

    Go!
    ***************

    1. At what age did my daughter start reading? If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may already know this. If not, search my blog post archives to find the answer.  (Worth 3 Points) 

    2. What date did I start my Instagram account? In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, my username is @hereweeread. (Worth 5 points)  Note: you’re gonna have to scroll WAY back in my feed to find the answer!

    3. What is the name of the community service project my kids and I are currently working on? Easy if you’ve been following me for a while.  (Worth 2 points)

    4. Name two sources I mention on the blog for scoring free or discounted books to help build up your home or school library. (Worth 4 points)

    5. Which author did I meet at last year’s Book Expo in NYC that had me fangirling HARD? (Worth 2 points)

    6. How many Bookface photos did I feature on my Instagram page from January 2019 to March 2019? (Worth 2 points) Note: Don’t know what a Bookface is? You can read about it here.

    7. List the titles of two (2) books I posted on my Instagram page during the month of March 2019. The titles can be any two books you choose. Worth (4 points)

    8. What is one useful tip I provide in my blog post entitled “HELP…MY KIDS WON’T SIT STILL DURING STORY TIME“? (Worth 3 points)

    9. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Twitter? Also, if you’re not already following me on Twitter, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    10. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Facebook? Also, if you’re not already following me on Facebook, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    11. Name one person I’ve interviewed on my blog. Hint: Interview can be an author interview or another person I’ve interviewed/featured on the blog. (Worth 2 points)

    12. Name 2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) brands we’ve worked with in the past or featured on the blog. (Worth 4 points)

    13. How old are my children? (Worth 2 points) 

    14. At the time you’re working on this scavenger hunt, how many followers do I have on Pinterest? Also, if you’re not already following me on Pinterest, won’t you consider giving me a follow? My username is @hereweeread. (Worth 1 point)

    15. Name 2 books you’re excited to read from my 2019 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. (Worth 3 points)

    16. Name 1 inventor listed in my blog post entitled “9+ Black Inventor’s You May Have Missed in History Class.” (Worth 1 point)

    17. Tell me the name of one place my family and I visited on our popular Literary Road Trip Adventures. (Worth 2 points)

    18. Tell me the name of three categories I have listed in my Amazon Bookstore. (Worth 5 points)  Note: You can find the direct link to my Amazon Bookstore here.

    19. What do I have a Master’s Degree in? (Worth 3 points)

    20. Name 2 podcasts I’ve been featured on in the past.  Hint: I’ve been featured on 6 podcasts to date. (Worth 5 points)  Note: If you can only name 1 podcast you will get 2 points, not 5 points.

    21. Tell me the name of at least one (1) publisher I mention in the post entitled, “Diversity in Publishing A to Z”. (Worth 2 points)

    22. Name another publication I write for besides my own blog. (Worth 3 points)

    23. What musical instrument do both of my children play?  (Worth 5 points)

    24. In what state do my family and I currently reside?  (Worth 2 points)

    25. Which fictional tv character’s wardrobe do I fantasize about having?  (Worth 4 points)

    To enter and be in the running for the gift card grand prize, email your answers to me at: hereweeread@gmail.com.  You must put “Eggscellent Scavenger Hunt” in the Subject line of the email so I’ll see it.  Untitled or improperly titled email messages will NOT be accepted.  All email entries must be received by April 15, 2019 by 11:59pm EST to qualify.

    Enjoy the hunt! -Charnaie

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